The colposcopy What is a colposcopy? A colposcopy is a close examination of a woman’s cervix and vagina. It is performed using an instrument called a colposcope, which looks like a pair of binoculars on a stand. The colposcope gives the doctor a magnified view of the cervix to check the extent and nature of any cervical cell abnormalities. Who needs a colposcopy? Women who have a high-grade abnormality on a Pap test result or several low-grade abnormalities. Women who experience symptoms such as bleeding after sexual intercourse may also be referred to a colposcopy clinic or a gynaecologist experienced in colposcopy. How does a colposcopy differ from a Pap test? A Pap test is a quick and simple screening test that looks for changes in individual cells of the cervix. A colposcopy is an examination that allows the doctor to have a closer look at the cervix to assess whether treatment is required. It usually takes about 10 minutes. How is a colposcopy done? For the procedure you will be asked to undress from the waist down and sit in an examination chair with leg supports. Once you are comfortable, the doctor will insert a speculum into the vagina, like a Pap test. The doctor will paint the cervix with a solution to highlight any abnormal areas, then place the colposcope at the entrance of the vagina. The colposcope itself does not enter the body. The doctor will look through the colposcope to carefully examine the cervix and view the location of any abnormal cells. If abnormal cells are visible, the doctor may perform a biopsy. What is a biopsy? A biopsy is the removal of a sample of abnormal cell tissue from the surface of the cervix, performed during the colposcopy. Biopsies are not usually painful, however you may experience Please turn over… 1 Rathdowne Street, Carlton VIC 3053 Tel: 03 9635 5000 Fax: 03 9635 5360 firstname.lastname@example.org www.papscreen.org.au The colposcopy some discomfort. The samples are What preparation is needed sent to a laboratory and it takes up to before a colposcopy? two weeks for results to come back A colposcopy is preferably not to your doctor. performed when a woman has her period. Some women experience When your results are available, your cramping (similar to period pain) doctor will recommend one of the during the colposcopy, and find it following: helpful to take a painkiller, paracetamol or an anti-inflammatory • treatment normally used for period pain, an • a repeat colposcopy at a hour before the procedure to later date minimise discomfort. • more frequent Pap tests • no further action. How much does a colposcopy cost? What should I do after a biopsy? The cost of a colposcopy differs You may experience some depending on how your doctor bills, discomfort for a short time after a and some of it will be reimbursed by biopsy, often similar to period pain. Medicare. Please ask your doctor You should avoid heavy physical about the cost when you make the exercise, sexual intercourse, appointment. swimming, bathing and spas for 24–48 hours after the procedure. For more information about These precautions are to reduce colposcopies or to order the the risk of bleeding or infection. It is booklet Pap test results: A guide recommended you wear a sanitary for women with an abnormal Pap pad after the procedure as there test visit www.papscreen.org.au may be some spot bleeding for a or call the Cancer Council few days. Helpline on 13 11 20. May 2009 PapScreen Victoria is the Victorian component of the National Cervical Screening Program and is coordinated by the Department of Human Services. Cancer Council Victoria delivers PapScreen's education and communications initiatives.